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Set differences aside this Thanksgiving with family

It doesn’t take much for family gatherings of any kind to quickly turn into passive (or downright blatantly) aggressive arguments about everything from political differences to football teams.

We gather in the name of thankfulness and ties that bind, and yet, the things that divide us have a way of overwhelming the things that bring us together.

I’ve lost two immediate family members in the last two years. We didn’t agree on much at all, and you better believe they both would have arrived at our Thanksgiving table with some pretty strong opinions about the recent presidential election. But I loved them with every bit of my heart and I would give anything in the world if I could drive home today and see them sitting at the table.

If I could have one more Thanksgiving meal with them, I wouldn’t waste a moment. I’d make them tell stories about their lives. I’d ask for advice and recipes and life lessons. I’d take an unreasonable amount of iPhone photos. I’d burn into my memory the lines on their faces and the sound of their laughter. Most importantly, I would look each of them in the eye and tell them how much I love them and how thankful I am that they loved me back.

My point is not to tell folks how to live their lives, or to dictate the proper time and place to discuss divisive issues. Everyone is different. Every family is different. And few things in life are as simple as “do this; don’t do that.”

However, my hope is everyone will look around their Thanksgiving table today and take a mental and emotional snapshot of the people around you. Understand that while the ability to come together in spite of your differences isn’t always easy, it’s often worth it.

One day those people won’t be there. One day you won’t be there. And the only thing that will matter are the lives you touched, for better or worse.

Make today better.

alex mcdaniel is editor of The Oxford EAGLE.  Contact her at alex.mcdaniel@oxfordeagle.com.